2014 is a landmark year in sports because the World Cup happens twice this year. We already saw the first and largest last month. The other World Cup happens at the end of August when the world’s best basketball players will meet in Spain.
The 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball will be from August 30 to September 14 in Spain where it will feature national teams of the hoops variety. That’s pretty much the distinction between the two.
What is the FIBA World Cup of Basketball?
The World Cup of Basketball isn’t a new tournament. It was FIBA World Championship until FIBA decided to hitch on the global recognition of the World Cup name in an attempt to increase attention and presumably, boost its SEO hits. The name is not that important if you’re already a fan of the tournament.
It has had its share of great sporting moments. Back in 2002, the U.S. lost its first international game since it started sending NBA players. Then in 2006, an unheralded Greece team beat the U.S., before losing in the finals to Spain. That US debacle prompted widespread changes in its national team system, culminating in the creation of the Redeem Team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The World Cup of Basketball has moments in the spotlight over the years. Things have leveled off since the US re-established its dominance in the sport but anytime you have the best players in the world playing for pride and country, there will always be an audience for it.
Who’s the Favorite?
Obviously, it’s the USA. That has been especially true since the 2008 Beijing Olympics and figures to hold true for as long as NBA players take the tournament seriously. The 2014 US Team looks to be on the right path to reasserting its dominance in the tournament so unless something unforeseen happens like LeBron James being granted Spanish citizenship, Team USA is the odds-on favorite at 2/5 odds to win the tournament.
Should the US be concerned about other teams?
If the team plays up to its ability, there’s no real reason to be concerned. Spain have always played the US tough and with the tournament set to be held in its home soil, things could get hairy for the Americans. The odds to win the tournament speaks for itself with Spain trailing only Team USA at 2/1 odds. Just below Spain is France at 25/1.
Who are the must-watch teams of the tournament?
This is an entirely different question than who is going to win the whole thing. Team USA will always be in this conversation because it has NBA players. It also goes for Spain and to a lesser extent, France, Brazil, and Argentina.
However, there’s one team that should get a special mention: Gilas Pilipinas.
That’s the Philippines men’s national basketball team, which is participating in the tournament for the first time since 1878. Considering how much of a hotbed basketball is in the Philippines; it’s shocking that the Philippines hasn’t made it this far in the past 35 years for one reason or another. It is a good thing, the national program has finally been steered in the right direction and after years of underachieving in international competition, Gilas Pilipinas have established itself as an up-and-coming national team that could make some noise in the tournament.
Are there any props worth betting on?
A USA vs Spain final seems to be inevitable at this point but it doesn’t mean that we cannot put money on who we think the third place team is going to be. Taking out both the US and Spain, France assumes the role of favorites to finish third at 4/1 odds. Brazil and Argentina are next at 9/2 odds, followed by Brazil, Lithuania, and Greece at 6/1 odds, Serbia at 10/1 odds and Turkey at 12/ odds.
Should we even watch it?
Of course. It is the highest level of international basketball, on part with the games we see during the Olympics. Plus being held in Spain is an added bonus and again, don’t sleep on the other teams in the tourney like the Philippines just because they’re next to longshots to win the title.
Besides, the next tournament is five years from now in 2019. So enjoy it while you can because it’s going to be a longer wait for the next one.